10 Risk-Free Ways to Stop Scammers
Many people feel powerless to combat scammers. But you can do much more than delete suspicious emails or hang up on “phishy” phone solicitors. Learn how to help take a byte out of crime.
Become a scam stopper!
If you’re mad as heck and won’t take it anymore, don’t take the law into your own hands. There are plenty of legal ways to fight con artists, scammers and thieves, and to prevent others from being victimized.
We do NOT recommend that you directly communicate with scammers or thieves, whether online or off. That can be very dangerous.
Instead, use any of these 10 methods to help fight scams:
1. Report phishing to the real company.
For more on phishing. visit our intro article on phishing.
Because scammers often pose as legitimate businesses such as banks, credit card companies and online merchants, many of these companies offer ways to report scams.
Some companies let you forward suspicious emails, so they can determine if the email is, in fact, a scam. Other companies provide an online form, letting you report the web address associated with the possible scammer.
If a phishing email appears in your inbox, visit the real website of the business directly, and learn how to report it. Do NOT click on the link inside that email!
2. Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC lets you report scams of all kinds. Forward anything you consider deceptive, including spam, chain letters and phishing emails, to:
The FTC receives many potential scam emails every day, and uses the information to identify and prosecute scammers.
If you’ve been victimized by a scam, file a complaint with the FTC using the form on this page.
The FTC won’t be able to resolve your specific problem, but it can use your information to help prosecute the offender.
3. Report the scam to the FBI.
In partnership with the National White Collar Crime Center, the FBI has formed the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The IC3 is focused on hacking, identity theft, money laundering, and much more. If you suspect a crime is being committed, file a report at the IC3 site.
4. Report charity scams to the Better Business Bureau.
If you’re contacted by a dubious “charity” — by telephone, door-to-door or email solicitation — file a complaint with the BBB.
For more information on how to report a scam or file a complaint with the BBB, click here.
5. Report charity scams to the actual charity.
If you suspect someone is committing charity fraud, call the real organization. Verify the person’s affiliation with the charity, and make sure the organization is currently raising funds in the same way as
this person — i.e. by phone, door-to-door, email, etc.
If the solicitation is fraudulent, the organization will often take measures to put an end to the scam.
6. Call the police.
This is particularly effective for stopping fraudulent door-to-door solicitations.
Calling your local police also helps defeat computer hacking scams, among other scams, because many local and state police post fraud alerts, often including photos of scam artists on their websites. By reporting suspected scams to local police, you can help put con artists away.
7. Contact ScamBusters.org.
If you encounter a scam not listed on our site, let us know!
Visit our site, and fill out a feedback form detailing the scam. (Remember: we don’t track down individual scammers. We help educate consumers about various TYPES of scams.) You’ll find our feedback form here
8. Report the scam to the National Fraud Information Center.
The NFIC provides a complaint form for telemarketing and Internet fraud. The NFIC will pass your information along to the appropriate agencies, including the FBI, FTC and your State Attorney General.
To file a complaint with the NFIC, visit the Fraud.org site.
9. Send an abuse report.
If you receive a phishing email, but the impersonated organization doesn’t have a mechanism in place to report scams, you can usually email the suspected scam to the actual company or nonprofit.
For example, if you receive a phishing email that supposedly comes from a bank, forward the email to:
abuse@[name of bank].com
10. Report Nigerian email scams to the United States Secret Service.
If you receive a Nigerian email scam but have suffered no financial loss, forward it to:
If you’ve been a victim of the Nigerian scam, contact your local Secret Service office .
For more information on how to report scams and what to do if you’ve been a victim, see “Avoiding Fraud. What To Do If You’re Scammed” here.
Following these 10 tips, you can help stop scammers without putting yourself at risk.
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That’s a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!